Supermarket work has become significantly less hazardous over the past decade. According to statistics complied by Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of occupational injuries and illnesses in the food-retail industry declined 35.2% between 1992 and 2001, from 12.7 per 100 workers to 8.1.
sector and that food retail workers continue to face a risk considerably above the national average.
Even that average is nothing to boast about, medical experts have noted. In January 2001, a committee of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine here issued a report that found that the most common form of workplace injuries and illnesses -- those described by the scientific term musculoskeletal disorders -- affect 1 million workers annually and cost between $45 billion and $54 billion in compensation expenses, lost wages and decreased productivity.
And the experts have said that there are solutions available. Dr. Jeremiah Barondess, president of the New York Academy of Medicine, New York, and chairman of the panel that produced the 2001 report, commented, "Scientifically based prevention efforts can be effective in the workplace, substantially reducing the risk of job-related MSDs."